We’re Jammin’

What We Have Here, Is An Effort To Mediate

Last week, in response to a joint motion, Judge Michael Rankin signed an order to cancel the June 14 Court-ordered ADR (Mediation/Case Evaluation) that had been on the Scheduling Order since last October.

But that’s only half the story, and not as it seems that both sides in this case have a failure to communicate. Now scheduled for June 21 is a private mediation session. We learn that, “Parties are prepared to spend several hours with Judge (Howard) Chasanow in attempt to reach an amicable resolution to this matter and avoid future litigation costs and resources.”

It sounds like an impossible task.  Maybe so, but this Chasanow guy has quite a track record.

Before doing a deep dive on Chasanow’s record, we tried to wrap our arms around the whole mediation game and asked a couple of smart attorneys how this may play out in the Wone case:

“I wonder if mediation won’t be entirely without merit here? In settlement conferences, the judge (or special master or whoever) usually tries to convince both sides that they have no case and to make a deal.

That obviously won’t work here for Kathy or, seemingly, the defendants. The goal of mediation is to find common ground, hence its increased use in divorce cases.  Is there any here? At first blush, no. But in theory, both sides want the truth about what happened to come out; they just disagree on whether the defendants know who did it.

Also, I imagine both sides would like to avoid another painful, lengthy trial. If Joe et al. insist on their innocence, might a retired judge be able to appeal to lawyer Joe to stop the blanket stonewalling and admit to facts that in and of themselves are not incriminating, move things along and perhaps allow for a speedier trial? A good mediator will sympathize with Joe about the ordeal he’s been through, ask him to understand Kathy’s persistence and need for closure, and appeal to his best side to get some admissions or concessions.

On Kathy’s side he’ll sympathize, but ask her to consider what the guys are going through if they are indeed innocent and ascertain her ultimate goal in the civil case and whether anything less than that might suffice. I don’t expect that all parties will come out of mediation hand-in-hand pledging to find the real killer, but I’m wondering if the judge might get through at some level. Also, I could be wrong, but I believe the mediator would insist on meeting with all three defendants separately, which might have interesting consequences, especially if he sniffs out a weak link.”

And another view:

“Usually the parties just prefer to handle the mediation in the way they see fit (and satisfy the judge who ordered it) and thus agree to a private mediation.  Whether they expect to accomplish anything is another story, but they need to go through the exercise to please the judge.

The effectiveness of the mediation comes down to (1) how GOOD the mediator is, and (2) whether Kathy Wone is willing to believe a WORD the defendants say AND whether the defendants have ANY interest in ACTUALLY participating.  In my view, everyone will come to the table willing to listen but expecting the other side to offer the first olive branch.  Joe might just use it as a soapbox to talk “off the record” to Kathy to win her sympathy, as unlikely as that is. 

If the mediator does get each defendant alone, and the mediator is smart, he/she may learn a thing or two — and nothing prevents him/her from giving that “impression” to the other side.  It’s not a trier of fact and rules of evidence don’t apply, although nothing can be used as evidence either (all under the umbrella of being “for settlement purposes only”).  Again, that doesn’t mean the mediator can’t say to Kathy Wone, for example, “Ward seems to want to distance himself from the other two” or “Zaborsky was crying”.

All I’ve been involved in have included some “games” by the mediator in which he has everyone in the room, then dismisses one set, then the other set, then brings the first back in and tries to sway them by saying “I think if you do X, then they’ll really accept Y” and so forth.  I find the whole thing shady.”

OK, so who is this guy?Judge Howard Chasanow was in the Maryland Courts judging business for nearly 25 years, until he retired in 1999.  He rose to the state Court of Appeals and served on that bench for 10 years after punching his ticket as Associate Judge on the Prince George’s County Circuit Court from 1977-90, and before that he was Associate Judge for the District Court of Maryland (PG County) from 1971-77.

But he hardly retired.  He traded in his robe for… whatever it is mediation guys wear (nice suits, we guess), and the DC native and double-platinum retired jurist (University of Maryland School of Law, J.D., 1961 and Harvard Law School, LL.M., 1962) has made a name for himself in the mediation game for the last 10 years. 

In January, Chasanow joined JAMS, a 23 office outfit which seems like Planet Mediation.  They are, according to their site, “… the largest private alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider in the world. With its prestigious panel of neutrals, JAMS specializes in mediating and arbitrating complex, multi-party, business/commercial cases – those in which the choice of neutral is crucial.” 

For those of you asking, JAMS stands for “Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc.”

In his years as a mediator, Chasanow has gotten his share of kudos from media and legal colleagues. From the quote sheet in his JAMS marketing materials:

“One of Maryland’s best known retired judicial mediators… is the Honorable Howard S. Chasanow, who won national acclaim for settling the high profile ‘bridge collapse’ case last summer before a lawsuit was filed.”

“You’re a lawyer with a tremendous legal headache – you’ve got clients who don’t want their case to drag on for years and run up tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Who do you call? Lawyers  and judges in Maryland would give you the telephone number of a man they say is one of the state’s smartest peacemakers: retired Judge Howard S. Chasanow.”

And satisfied customers:

“I sincerely thank you for your help, your concern and your sensitivity. I am delighted to be working in the same profession that you chose.” M.R.P.
“Thank you again for your expertise and efficiency, which led to a mutually satisfactory settlement reached in a most economical way.” L.E.C.
“Thank you again for expert assistance in achieving a successful resolution of a case that seemed highly unlikely to settle.” B.S.
“In what appeared to be one of the more difficult cases that I have faced as an attorney, you were able to forge out an amicable resolution in which all parties were satisfied.” J.J.T.
“As always, it was indeed a pleasure to observe the “guru” of mediation work his magic to efficiently resolve a complex claim that would otherwise have consumed the parties, their resources, and the court system to an extreme degree.” D.G.W.
“Once again, I have been awed by your masterful abilities. Our clients are very grateful to you for your expertise and assistance with their case.” B.J.K

Great tributes no doubt, but this guy will have to be a superhero if he’s able to make any headway in this case. 

Judge Chasanow’s work puts him in an enviable position (to some). 

His office, decorated with Asian art, 19th century pieces used by scholars of serenity during long days of studying, is just steps away from his wife’s office chambers.  The He judge can see the She judge’s digs from his office window – she being Deborah K. Chasanow, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Howard Chasanow’s Maryland roots may have proved welcome to the defense counsel in this case; they are probabaly familiar with his from his years in both robes and suit. 

Our attorney friend thought that could play either way:

“I can’t help but notice the Maryland connection with the insurance defense counsel for Joe and Vic. Probably known to them and not objectionable, maybe even suggested by them. If so and Covington went along, it tells me Kathy/Razi have no intention of settling (not really news) and are going along to get this out of the way.”

To be on the safe side, despite Chasanow’s skills as a mediator, don’t scratch October 17 of your calendars just yet.

Joint Motion

Order

66 comments for “We’re Jammin’

  1. Bill Orange
    06/02/2011 at 7:49 PM

    Well, never say never, but this looks like a total non-starter to me. I don’t think Kathy Wone has any real interest in the money, so I don’t see any way she’d accept any sort of settlement unless one of the defendants flips on the other two.

    You write that “…in theory, both sides want the truth about what happened to come out; they just disagree on whether the defendants know who did it.” This just isn’t accurate. The defendants either know who did it, or they don’t. Obviously, if they don’t know who did it, then they really do want the truth to come out, because it would exonerate them. But if they DO know who did it, then I think it’s fair to say that they really don’t want the information to come out, because if they did, they would have simply revealed the information already.

    “On Kathy’s side he’ll sympathize, but ask her to consider what the guys are going through if they are indeed innocent and ascertain her ultimate goal in the civil case and whether anything less than that might suffice.” Again, I don’t really understand the argument. The defendants have invoked their fifth amendment rights over 400 times in response to Kathy Wone’s questions. Her ultimate goal is to get the answers to those 400+ questions. She strongly suspects the defendants were involved in the murder of her husband, in large part because they won’t answer those 400+ questions. I suppose you could ask her if she’d be willing to settle for the answers to only 200 of those questions, but I still can’t see her settling for less than the maximum amount if one of the answers is, “Yes, I drugged and murdered your husband.”

    I really can’t see any middle ground here. The events of August 2, 2006, either occurred the way the defendants claim that they did, or they did not. If Robert Wone really was killed by a random intruder, and the defendants really called 911 immediately, then I don’t think Kathy Wone would expect or want compensation from the defendants. The most you could say is that Joe Price failed to lock the door to the back patio, but the patio gate was still locked, and the security system was still active, and it’s hard for me to see how not locking the back door would be so negligent that reasonable person would conclude that it was likely to lead to a ninja intruder killing the second most-accessible victim in the house.

    I agree that a skillful mediator might be able to peel off one of the three defendants from the other two, but it’s not like he’s the first person who’s tried to reason with any of them. Frankly, if none of them have broken from the group yet, I can’t really see it happening now.

    • susan
      06/02/2011 at 11:16 PM

      Bill O, the person that wrote “In theory…” was one atty giving her/his opinion and he/she is prob. right that the starting point is, “In theory…” That said, I deduce (and please someone correct me if this is wrong) that they are MANDATED BY LAW to go through this mediation process if it was ordered by the judge. I’m sure it will be arduous if there is no intent on settling on the Wone side. Of course, it’s apparent that a settlement would be the jackpot for the defendants.

      One question is–will the Swann three be a unit here? If so, how ultra uncomfortable for Kathy Wone, no matter how many Covington team members are there for support. It would be great if R. Wone’s brother and/or others of Robert W’s or KW’s family could be there on the other side–together. I wonder if that is legally permissable if they are not legally named to the case.

      • susan
        06/02/2011 at 11:22 PM

        If we’re really Jammin’ then maybe Bob Marley (R.I.P.) has some words of wisdom:

        No bullet can stop us now, we
        neither beg nor we won’t bow;
        Neither can be bought nor sold.
        We all defend the right; Jah –
        Your life is worth much more than gold.

        Seems like his message comes home in the last line–don’t settle.

        • Clio
          06/03/2011 at 8:43 PM

          Susan, “I hope you like jammin’, too,” as in the memorable lyrics of the late Marley.

          Now, I cannot get this once-popular song out of my head: thanks, Editors!

          • susan
            06/03/2011 at 11:24 PM

            I like his meaningful lyrics, Clio.

            If you get tired of “Jammin'” there’s always “Get Up Stand up (for Your Rights)” another applicable theme here–“You can fool some people some time. But you can’t fool all the people all the time…”

            R.I.P. Robert “Bob” Marley and Robert Wone.

      • Craig
        06/03/2011 at 11:41 AM

        I don’t know who normally attends the mediation confabs, but according to the transcript, Kathy Wone was at the first Dylan Ward depo that took place at Covington, late last year.

    • Hoya Loya
      06/03/2011 at 10:39 AM

      Bill O.:

      This is how a mediation differs from a settlement conference or arbitration. A mediator listens, separately, to the position of both sides and tries to ascertain if there are any areas of agreement. The defendants have maintained all along that they didn’t do it and don’t know who did. That will be the starting point for the mediator (“So do you want to know who did this? Don’t you understand that Kathy does too and that is why she is suing?” and so on).

      Susan, IMHO, the process will be worthless if the mediator does not meet with each defendant separately. Their interests are aligned (avoiding liability and possible criminal consequences), but not identical, particularly if one or more of them did it or, as Judge L. worried, if at least one of them is innocent.

      It’s doubtful this mediation will result in a settlement, but it might bring about some agreements that might shorten or simplify the trial.

    • alternateguy
      06/03/2011 at 11:20 AM

      Bill O,

      You say ,“Well, never say never, but this looks like a total non-starter to me. I don’t think Kathy Wone has any real interest in the money, so I don’t see any way she’d accept any sort of settlement unless one of the defendants flips on the other two.”

      Isn’t this like saying that she has her mind made up as to their guilt? What happened to the idea that she just wants to know the truth?

      Then you say, “ Obviously, if they don’t know who did it, then they really do want the truth to come out, because it would exonerate them.” I’d call that statement very logical as well as the one where you state: “If Robert Wone really was killed by a random intruder, and the defendants really called 911 immediately, then I don’t think Kathy Wone would expect…”

      Yes the defendants immediately and willingly made many statements in the course of answering hundreds of police questions, many of which were well documented and even video-taped. They clearly said that the security system was not turned on that night. (You say, “The security system was still active…”) They clearly said that they DIDN’T KNOW who the intruder was, and also SPECULATED that it could have been someone random.

      Like the police, you focus on their speculation concerning a random intruder, an idea which got shot down following a supposed investigation, while ignoring any possibility of an intruder targeting Robert, a idea seemingly never investigated. (It also seems that the idea of an unknown intruder, random or otherwise, was actually shot down at the get-go by the detectives, well before any investigation took place. That suggests to me that whatever investigation was then conducted, most likely consisted of going through the motions. (That wouldn’t at all have been the only sloppy investigating that took place in this case.)

      Yes, as you say, “the patio gate was still locked.” But somehow, even though Joe very clearly expressed his belief that that fact wouldn’t have prevented an intruder from making a quick exit through said gate, somehow his words, like his word “Yeah,…” get taken out of context and get used against him. As does his recollection of the exact time of his call, even though he repeatedly points out that the exact time should be on record by the 911 service.

      You say, of Kathy, that “Her ultimate goal is to get the answers to those 400+ questions.”

      But it seems to me that the defendants have long ago learned the wisdom of “Taking the fifth.” And that the Miranda means what it says in stating:”Anything you say, can and will be used against you.”

      So, let us all hope, that mediation is a way, finally, to let known truth to come out. And then more energy can be focused on finding out “W.M.R.W?”

      • Bill Orange
        06/03/2011 at 4:40 PM

        1. “Isn’t this like saying that she has her mind made up as to their guilt?”

        I think it’s fairly clear that she thinks they know more than they’re saying. I also think it’s fair to say that Kathy Wone thinks they’re responsible–at least in part–for the death of her husband. That’s the whole point of her lawsuit.

        2. “They clearly said that the security system was not turned on that night. (You say, “The security system was still active…”)”

        I’ll amend this. The “door open” alarm, or beeper, or whatever you want to call it, was still on, according to Joe.

        3. “Like the police, you focus on their speculation concerning a random intruder, an idea which got shot down following a supposed investigation, while ignoring any possibility of an intruder targeting Robert, a idea seemingly never investigated.”

        I will heartily agree with anyone who says that the police did a really shoddy job on this investigation. I have said before that I doubt they would’ve been able to find an intruder, even it he (or she) had been standing on the coffee table when they arrived. That being said, the defendants were entirely free to conduct their own investigation, and they clearly devoted considerable resources to the first trial, so I have no doubt they would’ve been able to hire investigators. While they are under no obligation to find “the real killer”, I think we can all agree that it would be in their best interests to do so. They don’t appear to have tried. At a bare minimum, I think their lawyers would have asked the police for everything they had on Kathy Wone, so that they could investigate the possibility that she hired someone to kill her husband. But the fact that they’re now fighting with the police for this information–which they no longer have a right to–leads me to believe they didn’t consider this possibility at the time.

        4. “But it seems to me that the defendants have long ago learned the wisdom of “Taking the fifth.””

        This is what this so-called wisdom has lead to: They’ve burned through hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, they’re facing a $20 million civil suit, and they will very likely be indicted on additional criminal charges in the future. If they really are innocent, I don’t think the fifth amendment has done them any huge favors.

        • alternateguy
          06/03/2011 at 6:09 PM

          Bill O,

          Now I’m puzzled. You point out that “They’ve burned through hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, they’re facing a $20 million civil suit, and they will very likely be indicted on additional criminal charges in the future.” Then you seem to want to make the point that their use of their 5th Amendment rights, presumably under the advise of counsel, has somehow caused or contributed to this fact.

          I’d think that most of their troubles seem to have followed due to and in spite of their freely answering questions in the beginning.

          This is not at all uncommon among accused persons who are often advised, too late, not to say anything until they’ve talked to a lawyer. Yes, getting “…all lawyered up.” does raise suspicion by police. But in this case the police were clearly already quite suspicious from the beginning. Perhaps, even to the point of concentrating almost all of their efforts on proving that one or more of the trio was the guilty party.

          If indeed the defendants are further indicted, as you believe, I think they may be very glad that even more of their answers can’t be twisted and used out of context and so possibly contribute to their conviction.

          Your suggestion that these defendants could have spent a great deal of money seeking the true murderer, by posting a reward or hiring detectives, seems logical on the surface. But only on the surface. Wouldn’t it have quickly become apparent to them that they were going to need every penny they had just to stay out of jail? And equally apparent, that their taking the unprecedented step of posting a reward would seem quite manipulative? (Can you just imagine what posters on this blog would be saying?) Offering a reward is something that is usually done by a crime victim’s family and immediate associates. But in this case these folks are involved in going after the trio. They obviously believe the police line that the answers are there.

          It seems to me that the defendants may, very likely, have paid for some detective work. If so, the results would probably not have been made public at this point. But such results may come out in any future trial. Or perhaps even in mediation. To me, mediation seems a very wise direction for the law to take at this point. Just sayin’.

          • susan
            06/03/2011 at 11:09 PM

            Hi AltG,

            This is in resp. to your third para. down:

            “This is not at all uncommon among accused persons who are often advised, too late, not to say anything until they’ve talked to a lawyer….. ” Joseph Price is a lawyer. He was/maybe still is known to be an adept one. And he even handled the criminal case of his brother’s housemate/lover/beater-upper.

            Your right about the police having been suspish, no doubt due to one man dead in a house of a trio of lovers all alive. And the apparent missing evidence of an intruder.

            That said, I appreciate that none of us know which way this mediation thing will go and I appreciate your alt. viewpoint even if I don’t agree with most of it.

            • susan
              06/03/2011 at 11:10 PM

              You’re right… (‘scuse the misspelling above).

          • Bill Orange
            06/04/2011 at 11:01 AM

            They didn’t get in trouble because they talked to the police immediately. They got in trouble because someone was stabbed to death in their guest bedroom. Had they called 911 and said, “The body’s on the second floor, and we’re all invoking our fifth amendment rights,” they probably would’ve dodged the criminal charges two years later, but they certainly would’ve been hit with a civil suit immediately, they probably would’ve been arrested that night, and the resulting media storm would’ve cost them all their jobs within months instead of within years.

            • Bea
              06/04/2011 at 8:31 PM

              I too think if the defendants refused to talk that night and asked for lawyers immediately, they’d have been arrested. Joe knew better than anyone what that might have meant for Victor. Dylan held up during a month in jail awaiting extradition but the cops bet on the wrong pony, IMHO. My GUESS, and of course it’s only a guess, is that Joe wanted the three to be open to speak with investigators, although I’m sure he’d have stopped Dylan from taking the polygraph if he’d had the chance. Since the defense counsel filed a motion to keep that out of the criminal trial, though the prosecution knew it was inadmissible, means he failed it or it was “inconclusive” – no defendant’s motion if he’d passed with flying colors.

              V & D put their trust in Joe that night and it worked, at least through the present day. Had Victor been arrested that night, would he have cracked under the pressure being kept away from Joe? Would his family visited and said “tell them exactly what you know?” I think there’s a good chance Victor may have told the truth as he alluded to during the interrogation: my life is never going to be the same.

              • Clio
                06/05/2011 at 1:42 PM

                Why Dyl?

              • alternateguy
                06/05/2011 at 2:40 PM

                I guess that the point that I was trying to make is that the subsequent use of the fifth amendment seems understandable to me and not suspicious. Yes, someone in the course of a police investigation, particularly if innocent, is going to try at first to cooperate with that investigation. And I think that the trio did this, freely answering questions. One has to analyze things very, very closely to pick up small discrepancies. And such do always appear in various individual accounts involving any event.

                I wonder if Joe was later kicking himself, greatly, that he had not followed the old advice to seek counsel earlier in the night of questioning. And furthermore, he had even thought, for a time, that he could act as his own counsel. Another no-no.

                The trio, I feel, could have answered questions with outside counsel present and that would have somewhat assured that there would not be any immediate arrest. (Lawyers do have a way of wanting to slow things down.)

                Posters here often ask one another what they would feel, being innocent, if they suddenly, and without explanation, found a friend stabbed, murdered, and dead/dying in their home.

                I for one, being a typical sheltered American, would recognize it to be a life changing shock. Any invasion, particularly a murderous one taking place in one’s comfortable secure home, does things to people,. Under those circumstances I can really see myself thinking and feeling, “My life will never be the same again.”

                Would I be open enough to speak those words out in public? Perhaps not. Definitely not in a police station. I’ve grown cynical enough to believe that listeners write in all sorts of meanings should you attempt to express your emotional thought. But perhaps Victor at that point wasn’t cynical and beat down enough. Most likely he has changed a bit by now.

                • Bea
                  06/05/2011 at 6:20 PM

                  I’m a lawyer and know all the stuff about don’t speak with cops alone, have seen situations where that worked against the defendants – the ones who were guilty. If a friend were murdered in my home, I just don’t see myself acting as the defendants have. I’d have talked to cops that night and not held back anything. I certainly wouldn’t have had a thought to call the “rep” of the dead man’s wife to ask if anything I said was inconsistent with what I’d said or ask that the widow waive her attorney client privileged to have that mutual friend speak to me. I wouldn’t have clammed up even if cops were acting like I was a suspect because I know that when you have resources that you won’t be wrongly convicted (RESOURCES here is KEY, and these men had plenty).

                  I’d have felt an obligation to my friend, to his wife. That’s why I don’t believe Joe. Dylan not passing the polygraph is supporting validation, and Victor’s “my life will never be the same” has to be considered in the context of the discussion. These did not behave like innocent men especially as the days passed. Forget the lack of blood, the timing, Joe’s having claimed to have pulled the knife from Robert’s chest but then NOT, the big holes and inconsistencies about this uber-quiet killer who scaled the back gate to leave, that all three crowned Dylan for having “seen” the unlocked back door after cops arrived yet Victor is heard saying so on the 911 tape. Just go to their behavior. Joe was hardly the grieving friend in his demeanor. He lied through his teeth as he looked at Victor’s phone. He described three grunts with three stabbing motions to Kathy Wone days later, something he couldn’t have known.

                  But it comes down to them hiding behind “we don’t want to cooperate more for fear one of us will be arrested.” Really? Your friend was murdered in your home and you’ve seen his wife’s grief and all you’re worried about is yourself when you alone hold all possible information which might help the investigation? Doesn’t add up – particularly if you’re purportedly a brave champion of the rights of strangers.

                  Joe spent his life wanting to be a hero – and handed the opportunity to do so, retreated and barricaded himself. If you’re innocent and you don’t know who the killer is, WHY behave this way? The man who craved glory and went to work the next morning to hold court, told everyone about what had happened? “Bragged” to friends about his feat about the knife yet told the cops something else entirely? Doesn’t add up at all. I don’t know if he’s the killer but he knows who is and has some reason to want to protect him to the point of giving up his upscale life he loved so much and worked hard to get.

                  • alternateguy
                    06/07/2011 at 2:55 PM

                    Bea,

                    So you’re a lawyer who knows all that stuff.
                    Having seen the situations you describe, what do you advise your clients to do when they’re hauled in?

                    Wing it? Or is that only for the guilty ones?

                    If you had impulsively pulled a knife from your friend’s chest and then realized that doing so might have actually contributed to his death, would you then have immediately revealed that detail? Or would you have thought that that information wasn’t necessary to find the killer?

                    Even as clear thinking as you are, can you say exactly how you would behave if you found a friend….?

                    They did talk to the cops that night. We can only SPECULATE as to how much they held back.

                    If Joe both knew that he had resources and knew that millionaires are never convicted of murder in this country, would he risk being accused of meddling by talking around?

                    Couldn’t all of that behavior
                    to refocus the police investigation have been a sign of innocents just as well as what you think?

                    Joe clearly knew the number of knife wounds and heard sounds.

                    Didn’t Joe remark to Victor that they/he may have failed to lock the door?

                    And isn’t your saying that they alone hold all the information, a guess that leads you to condemn them rather than sure knowledge?

                    Yes, I agree that bragging to a friend doesn’t at all add up. But I would think that revealing to friends, nightmare details of the most traumatic night of your life isn’t necessarily bragging.

                    If Joe both KNOWS who the killer is and is protecting him, then all you say is right. But if not, not.

                    Your saying that Joe does know who the killer is, is speculation. Unless, of course, you KNOW something that we laymen do not.

                • Bill Orange
                  06/06/2011 at 9:21 AM

                  “I guess that the point that I was trying to make is that the subsequent use of the fifth amendment seems understandable to me and not suspicious.”

                  And this is where we disagree. I really don’t see it this way. And it’s not merely the invocation of the fifth amendment. It’s the total stonewall they’ve thrown up. There are plenty of ways they could “talk” without having the information be subject to being used against them. They could’ve each undergone daily lie detector tests for the past five years, and none of it would be admissible in court.

            • alternateguy
              06/06/2011 at 12:51 PM

              Bill O,

              Answering your later post here, because I’m running out of space.

              You make some good points.

              However, please keep in mind that “Lie detectors” are junk science. The failure (erroneous reading) rate is VERY high. Anyone taking such a police conducted test, hoping to be cleared from a false accusation, is taking a very big risk.

              Polygraphs, are subject to false readings and are not permissible in court in all fifty states, for that very reason.

              However law enforcement seems to feel that they are useful, perhaps because fear of them encourages some people to talk more than they otherwise would. I think that the experts all realize how inaccurate these tests are, but in order for them to have their truth encouraging effect, the belief in their accuracy must be perpetuated.

              Unfortunately, because belief in their accuracy is widespread, in too many cases the results of a suspect’s test is leaked among law enforcement themselves, thereby influencing any further investigation. Sometimes results are even leaked outside to would-be witnesses, thereby influencing them as well. (“We know this guy is guilty, he failed his lie detector test!”)

              Law enforcement spends little if any time or money searching to find a criminal, once they believe that they have their man.

              When outside lawyers attempt investigations in a criminal case, they run the risk of being accussed of witness tampering or worse.

              Suppose that the failure rate of polygraphs are only ten percent? (Some studies say that it’s as high as thirty percent.) Think about it. The whole theory behind the polygraph is that the body tends to tense up because of fear caused by having to give a false answer to a criminally important question. But is a pathological liar or sociopath going to be afraid of answering such a question?

              And isn’t an innocent person, underneath, going to be afraid that his answer won’t be believed? A surprisingly high number of doctor’s patients suffer from something known as “White coat syndrome.” Their blood pressure shoots up whenever a doctor is taking a reading, but not at other times. Also, I suspect that a gay person, who may have spent much of his early youth trying, unsuccessfully, to appear innocent, might be nervous about answering accusatory questions in general. But that last is just my own speculation.

              And as far as taking a multitude of privately funded polygraphs, as you suggest, I assume you are joking. Who would such tests convince? The prosecutor?

              And, let’s say that the trio’s have been given and have passed private polygraphs. Or conducted other investigations. Would we know about these? Perhaps that’s why there haven’t been further indictments.

              It seems clear to me that the defendants aren’t fighting their case in public. The uncomfortable thought, for we W.M.R.W. posters, is that perhaps we will never fully know what negotiations and fact findings do take place, or have taken place, behind the scenes.

              • Bill Orange
                06/06/2011 at 1:58 PM

                I think the FBI would’ve been happy to administer as many polygraphs as the defendants were willing to take. Yes, they are problematic, which is why they’re inadmissible in court, and it’s entirely possible that all three would’ve failed them, even if they were all innocent. But I fail to see how they would’ve been any worse off. Early in the investigation, they were tagged as three gay men in an unconventional (even by gay standards) relationship with a trunk full of S&M gear who were the only ones in the house (except for an unseen, unheard intruder) when someone was stabbed to death. It’s hard for me to see how adding “and they blew a lie-detector test” to that would make the police more suspicious of them.

                On the other hand, I think that if they had all passed lie detector tests early on, both the police and the prosecutor would’ve been more likely to conclude their private, consensual activities were just that–private and consensual–and were probably unrelated to Robert Wone’s death.

                As for leaks to the media, keep in mind that it took two years for the S&M trunk to become public, and to my knowledge, the results of Dylan’s lie detector test have NEVER been made public.

                • alternateguy
                  06/06/2011 at 5:17 PM

                  Bill O,

                  “Problematic” Is much too kind of a word.

                  Though it’s possible that authorities re-do tests when requested, I’ve never heard of that happening. And I can’t really imagine that happening.

                  You are correct that we don’t know the results of Dylan’s test. (Or even if any others were conducted.) It could have gone either way, I suppose. And, too, any of these men could be pathological, though I haven’t heard any history to that fact.

                  Really, how can we speculate as much as we do, when so little is known? If we believe that the trio has more significant information that they have revealed, then yes, we can accuse them of stonewalling. But how do we know that for a fact? Or know that their having hidden any information is proof that they are protecting the murderer. Particularly, considering that we aren’t privy to all private communication that may have taken place?

                  Negotiation sounds more and more good to me, though I have no idea the likelihood.

                  You ask how could adding to the police suspicions by possibly failing a lie detector test have hurt them? Just suppose for a minute that they were telling the truth. In that case they would have been expecting, as they said they were, evidence to show up of an intruder or outside murderer. So-called “Lie detectors” are a sloppy and non-scientific way to conduct an investigation. (Defense lawyers know this.) What if the defendants simply wanted the most scientific and accurate investigation possible, but failed to get that? (Now we DO know that they failed to get that.)

                  • Clio
                    06/06/2011 at 10:10 PM

                    How does one negotiate with someone who was such a bad host?

              • Hoya Loya
                06/08/2011 at 4:08 PM

                AltGuy:

                I’ve been reading your latest round of comments with interest and you do raise some interesting points. Some thoughts:

                Working backwards, there definitely are things going on behind the scenes since discovery disputes have been limited and with the deadline passed, no further word on the Fifth Amendment dispute. So some deals may have been reached.

                I agree that lie detector tests generally are worthless. If one passes, one can trumpet that fact, but it is just as unreliable as a fail. The only interesting thing about them in this case is that Dylan actually took one, for whatever reason. The possibility that he failed doesn’t carry any weight with me.

                I wonder if the defendants have undertaken an intruder investigation at any point? The interesting thing about the intruder “theory” is that it comes from the defendants themselves, but based on little evidence. Taking them at their word, based on what they knew that night when they raised the theory (not things that were discovered later like the crushed sandbox): 1) Robert was stabbed; 2)they didn’t kill Robert; 3) the door was unlocked and the alarm not set; and 4) one or possibly two chimes were heard.

                If it was an unknown intruder, without a key, then it must have been a crime of opportunity, rather than a targeted assassination, unless the assassin was following Robert around northern Virginia and the District waiting for an opportunity. A burglar determined to break into 1509 would not have been stopped by a locked door, nor would someone targeting Robert at that house on that night.
                And if the intruder was someone with a key, they would have had easy access. In that case, does the unlocked door really help establish that there was an intruder? It provides a possible means of access, but doesn’t establish who came in or with what motive.

                Likewise, throughout his interview, Joe states that someone was trying to rob 1509 — despite the fact that nothing was stolen but someone was killed. Didn’t Joe himself, and by extension the other defendants, contribute to MPD ignorance of the “ninja” or targeted killing theory by sticking to the robbery theory, despite the minimal supporting evidence? Wouldn’t the most plausible, simple statement have been: someone got in the house and killed our friend Robert and we can’t imagine who or why?

                • alternateguy
                  06/08/2011 at 4:25 PM

                  Hoya Loya,

                  So, perhaps I’m NOT nuts, questioning the way I do.

                  Thanks; that helps.

                  (Of course we are all nuts for being so wrapped up in this thing for so long.)

                • Clio
                  06/08/2011 at 4:32 PM

                  Yes, who proffers a “theory” just after a friend has been murdered in their own home? Offering such a “theory” sounds like window dressing or worse to me.

                  • alternateguy
                    06/08/2011 at 6:33 PM

                    And yet it’s human nature to seek logical answers to even the most bizarre and unexplainable events.

                    Please don’t forget that the trio were being pressed for explanations, (which they kept saying that that they didn’t have,) throughout the questioning.

                    “I don’t know what happened” was just not making it.

                    So, of course, they offered what possibilities they could think of.

                    They probably didn’t offer the theory of someone targeting Robert because they didn’t think of that.

                    I myself have wondered if Robert’s asking to stay at his old lawyer friend’s house that night could have been because he had come across, or had been passed, some information that he wanted to run by Joe, and was expecting to have an opportunity to speak to him privately in the morning.

                    Joe might not have had even a hint that that was Robert’s intent.

                    But a ninja might have, since the meeting was planned in advance. There would have been plenty of time to set the murder up.

                    Perhaps it’s just me who looks for conspiracies, but, after all, this was Washington, D.C. (And Robert’s old employer is paying big bucks to cast all suspicion on the Swann Street household.)

                    The same reason why a ninja would have selected one of the trio’s kitchen knives to use and leave behind?

                    Smart operatives always leave a patsy or two behind as a red herring.

                    Of course someone hating the trio could have gone after Robert knowing that that was an effective way of destroying them. That would have meant that Robert wasn’t the target.

                    OK, I was kidding when I suggested that I’m not nuts. I am nuts. And the trio, when being asked, for explanations at to what might have happened that night, showed very little imagination.

                • susan
                  06/08/2011 at 9:54 PM

                  Hoya,

                  M. Price gives a “model” example of a robbery with key access. And he took stuff from the first floor–TV, etc.

                  • Alternateguy
                    06/08/2011 at 10:10 PM

                    And, Susan & Hoya,

                    Have you ever looked at the pictures of the back gate, with those wide spaces between the styles?

                    It looks to me as if any kid could reach through and trip the latch. I’ve always wondered why details of this gate latch have never been discussed in detail. Why would it have been necessary for any clever person to jump the fence?

                    • CDinDC
                      06/09/2011 at 4:27 PM

                      AltGuy says: “It looks to me as if any kid could reach through and trip the latch.”
                      ….so the ninja killerbrought a kid along so the kid could open the gate (because his adult arm was too big to fit through?) Or are you saying the ninja killer was a “kid?”

                    • alternateguy
                      06/09/2011 at 5:12 PM

                      CD in DC,

                      Anyoneunder twenty is a kid to me, but there are slim jims and coat hangerwires and creditcards and lock picks.

                      DC police just said, “Gate lockedneed key, end of story”

                      They knew better !

                    • cdindc
                      06/09/2011 at 8:26 PM

                      Well, AltGuy, you said kid…you didn’t say that slim jims are classified as kids. (wink) just playin’ with ya.

              • Clio
                06/11/2011 at 10:28 AM

                Alt, your speculation about gay men being especially uneasy about answering accusatory questions is intriguing, but how would it apply to a world traveler/spoiled dilletante/jaded masseuse that Mr. Ward seemed to be in 2006? Dyl did not seem to care about what anyone else thought: he wasn’t “career-minded,” as even his family members have admitted. He was allegedly sitting groggily on the sofa, as Victor did his 911 performance. And, he did not appear nervous in his close-up at Anacostia: just strangely indifferent and aloof. Hmmmm.

                • alternateguy
                  06/11/2011 at 12:04 PM

                  Clio,

                  To me, indifferent and aloof can be all part of an act. A lot of insecure people have learned how to put on a good front. The Polygraph is designed to show internal stresses and body responses that can’t be controlled. I shouldn’t have used the word ‘nervous’ which implies an uncontrollable outside appearance. “Are you nervous?” “NOPE!” I’ve always suspected that some of the coolest appearing people are successfully covering up their insecurity. But, thank God, life is far too complicated to measure individuals by machines. (And it’s likely that I myself am trying to cover up my ignorance here, by pretending to have answers.)

                  • Clio
                    06/11/2011 at 4:55 PM

                    So, to you, Alt, any acting on Dyl’s part was to cover up his “insecurities” rather than his crimes? Close but no cigar, I am afraid!

                    • Alternateguy
                      06/11/2011 at 5:20 PM

                      And just how would actingindifferent and aloof to a murdercover up one’s crime?

                  • Alternateguy
                    06/11/2011 at 5:07 PM

                    Clio,

                    In further response to your previous post to me, I have once again watched Dylan’s long tedious videotaped interview. To my way of thinking, in no way does he appear either indifferent or aloof. Watch him as he sits for long minutes waiting for his second interview.

                    Is he behaving like someone who is stonewalling; someone who is fully resolved to stick to his story with an iron will? I’d say no.

                    To me, his is not the image of someone rehearsing his lines and steeling his resolve.

                    In my view, Dylan rather seems like a person who is going over and over events in his mind, looking for answers, but finding none. Asking for a magazine is something one would do while waiting in a doctor or dentist’s office in order to calm oneself and try to take his mind off of the subject. (Something one might do to try to unblock one’s memory?)

                    I think a magazine is not the request of someone needing every free moment to think and plan and save himself.

                    It’s hard to try to put ourselves into the shoes of others. (Be he guilty or not, I’d never want to be in those shoes.)

                    • Clio
                      06/12/2011 at 4:25 PM

                      Dyl does have some fabulous shoes (as shown in the Green photo in particular,) but of course no one would want to be in his shoes. But one chooses one’s own shoes (even Dyl who still reliess too much on parents,) and his choices may have not been for the best. X,O Clio.

                  • Clio
                    06/12/2011 at 4:04 PM

                    Oh, Alt, I hate to be the one to make you watch Dyl’s close-up over again, but he does seem detached, to me, from the night’s events in those long and boring clips.

                    Now, asking for a magazine fits in with that devil-may-care detachment: thank Zeus that Mr. Ward did not ask for the New Yorker. Perhaps, reading a Cosmo or US News and World Report would, however, make one forget what one had done or not done that evening: just a thought.

                • alternateguy
                  06/12/2011 at 5:37 PM

                  Clio,

                  Answering your later post, but running out of room.

                  Detached? From the night’s events?

                  To me he seems as uneasy and fidgety as any kid hauled on the carpet could be. He seems to be a guy extremely disturbed by the nights events as well as by being a suspect. Yet as men will, even gay men, he seems to be trying to cover up just how uneasy he feels. Tries to keep his cool. Is he acting?

                  And, if he is, just how SHOULD he act, in order to appear innocent?

                  Any intelligent person knows that the best defense is a good offense. If he were guilty of serious crime here, wouldn’t his response be “How dare you accuse me?” “I’m innocent!” “I was sound asleep and am not a murderer!”

                  And yet not one of these suspect take that attitude. They act as though they want to help find and know the truth, as if they are in shock, as if they understand how suspicious it must look but, darn it, they just don’t know the truth. Is this acting? If so, they don’t seem to be convincing anyone at headquarters. But then these cops suspect everyone.

                  Like with Victor’s 911 telephone call. Was that performance acting? To me it was quite dramatic and painful to hear. I just don’t see how someone can so easily let down all of their deffences, without it being genuine. It takes a very professional actor to do this, particularly while playing themselves.

                  I think it takes a real expert actor to appear as convincing as these guys seem. And without preparation and rehearsal?

                  While Dylan may have been putting on an act, he convinced me as sounding as an innocent person, under those circumstances, would.

                  But, after all, different people will hear things differently, depending on where we are coming from.

                  And we all do end up drinking different brands of Kool-Aid don’t we?.

                  • Clio
                    06/12/2011 at 6:29 PM

                    I love Kool-Aid of any flavor, but one must ask why Dyl and Victor seemed to downplay their own personal connections to Robert. In their alleged quests to find out the truth, they seemed to omit truths along the way.

                    Alt, one could imagine that all three were completely innocent and were taken aback by the crime (hence, the odd reactions to the death), but, given our known universe of the possible, no one else but those three could have done it. So, perceived detachment or edginess takes on additional meanings.

                    • Alternateguy
                      06/12/2011 at 8:41 PM

                      Clio,

                      Aren’t you confusing the known universe of the possible with the known universe of the probable?
                      Once you assume they are guilty, of course their behavior appears guilty to you.
                      I really don’t know if they are guilty or not, but they do appear innocent to me when I watch the videos. Robert was visiting because of his friendship with Joe. He was only a casual friend of the others, as I understand it.

  2. noaharc
    06/03/2011 at 1:30 AM

    Will Kathy’s attorney really defend and represent her minus half truths and blatent lies? Believe me is is very easy for your attorney to throw you under the bus with the belief oh a bit of a hot head.

    • AnnaZed
      06/03/2011 at 3:35 AM

      I’m not able to parse even what might be the intended meaning of this post. Any guesses anyone?

      • mw
        06/03/2011 at 10:30 AM

        It does sound like one of Price’s friends from the party pill scene is trying to say something after a night out. I’m not sure what though.

        • AnnaZed
          06/03/2011 at 11:22 AM

          I thought blatent [sic] lies was a nice touch, but whose? Not even at one’s most mentally singed would one accuse Mrs. Wone of lying (about what?), surely.

      • Hoya Loya
        06/04/2011 at 1:38 AM

        I think, just maybe, noaharc is trying to say that he hopes Kathy’s lawyer stands up for her and doesn’t cave (i.e. throwing her under the proverbial bus).

        I don’t think anyone has to worry about Razi caving.

        • Clio
          06/11/2011 at 4:06 PM

          From the looks of his stylish publicity photo posted here, Hoya, I too do not think that Ben will cave, or will turn over, for that matter.

          “Papa, PapaRazi:” as the chorus of that awful, currently-popular ditty would have it.

    • Burke
      06/04/2011 at 1:02 AM

      And the facts supporting your accusations against Mrs Wone are…precisely.. what? Have any or are specifics too much of a stretch?

      Also clarify what “minus half truths” are – whole truths?

  3. Clio
    06/03/2011 at 8:39 PM

    How charming — a June parley, in tune with Pride Month!

    Although Culuket’s attention may be naturally more drawn to Mr. Reynolds and/or Mr. Razi than to the pictured mediator above, this may be a useful exercise in “divide and conquer.” Do not blow this one, Ben!

    Go Team Covington, and do not spare questioning Ma’am about what he/she may know about that night!

  4. Griz
    06/03/2011 at 10:45 PM

    Where is the common interest necessary for successful mediation? If mediation might “pull off” one of the three for a surprise moment of honesty, that is not exactly in everyone’s interest. And, do Covington or Kathy want to try to help reduce defendents’ expenditures on legal fees? Mediation seems a dead end before it starts.

  5. Bea
    06/04/2011 at 2:19 AM

    Likely going nowhere but there’s always a chance that a nugget of information will be gleaned if the mediator meets with the defendants individually. He can report everything “off the record.”

  6. cdindc
    06/04/2011 at 11:52 AM

    IMO The 3 stooges have lied from day one. They are thick as theives (murderers in this case), know their story from front to back, and will most likely continue to uphold the lies they told in the beginning. If the mediator discovers anything new it will most likely be a new lie.

    Question: If the 3 continue to refuse to cooperate (in mediation OR the actual trial) can they be jailed for contempt?

    I wonder if the coffers are running dry since they are trying to “avoid future litigation costs and resources.”

    • Clio
      06/04/2011 at 2:19 PM

      Perhaps, CD. Are cardiologists such as Needham cutting back because of Obamacare or because of proposed further cuts in Mediscare? It all boils down to budget deficits, both personal and national, after all. Soon, we’ll all wish that we lived in Ireland!

      New lies can uncover undetected old ones, though. Sic ’em, Ben!

      • cdindc
        06/05/2011 at 2:53 PM

        Good point, Clio. If the 3Ds don’t remain consistent with their story, hopefully sharp counsel will pick up on the discrepancies and nail them on it. Time is a liar’s enemy, afterall.

    • Bea
      06/04/2011 at 4:10 PM

      They just have to show up for mediation and pretend to listen – there’s no chance of them being held in contempt for failing to mediate unless they pull a moronic move like NOT showing up. There’s no risk for them if they show up and answer with non-answers. As for trial, the pretrial rulings will decide how and when they can invoke the 5th, so I doubt they’ll just NOT participate. Agree about lying from day one. They may hate each other by now but will still stay on script unless there’s an unraveling so severe, or a new piece of evidence, that forces the hand of one of them to jump ship.

      • Clio
        06/04/2011 at 8:22 PM

        Accordingly, instead of Jammin’, this segment should be called Scammin’, as in “I hope you like scammin’, too” in a parody of the Marley lyrics.

  7. boofoc
    06/09/2011 at 5:30 PM

    I’ve missed being able to contribute to the discussion in WMRW since I’ve become transfixed by the day-to-day live coverage of the Casey Anthony trial from Orlando (http://www.com.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=stream1). I’m wishing we could import the Orange County, FL law enforcement and prosecution teams to DC to redo the Wong murder case.

    Back to WMRW: Court-ordered mediation is not likely to obviate the necessity of a trial in this instance inasmuch as what’s at stake is not just money, but what is so much more valuable to Mrs. Wong: Revealing who killed her beloved husband and why. Revlation of that information is invaluable both to her and to the defendants. To them it’s likely akin to their continued individual freedom. Nevertheless, it may get the parties closer to resolution than they could imagine. Judge Chasanow (“the Chasanow guy” as Craig refers to him) is nobody’s dummy. He is much respected in Maryland legal circles. By interviewing each defendant separately – and apart from the plaintiff – he will be able to intuit (from their answers and their refusals to answer)who did what and who knows what, and he should be able to conclude much of the information Mrs. Wong seeks. He is, of course, sworn to secrecy and may not divulge the knowledge or the inferences he gains to the plaintiff or to her attorneys, but simply by making deliberate, studied implications to the individual defendants of what he has learned – or pretends to have learned – from their co-defendants he may be able to break some ground. (Much as the DC police tried to do; but he’s much smarter.)
    I’ve been involved in court-mandated mediation (required in civil litigation in FL), and it is usually not a waste of time, depending on the competence of the mediator.

    • Clio
      06/09/2011 at 11:28 PM

      It’s Wone, not Wong, dear. Please proofread all drafts before posting.

      I hope, though, that you’re right about Messr. Chasanow; from those above photographs, one cannot judge a book by its cover!

  8. boofoc
    06/09/2011 at 5:41 PM

    Sorry, misprint. It’s http://www.cnn.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=stream1
    Usually 9:00 am to 5:00 pm M-F and 9:00 to 1:00 Saturday.

  9. boofoc
    06/10/2011 at 10:17 AM

    Clio, dear: it’s not “Messr. Chasanow;” it’s Judge Chasanow, respecting his retired status as a MD Appellate Court judge.

    Having been chastened by the best, I promise to proofread my drafts punctiliously before postings from this day forward. (Actually, I mistakenly used Robert’s parents’ name; I do apologize.)

    • Clio
      06/10/2011 at 1:11 PM

      Touche, boo! No apology is needed.

      I am heartened by the retired Judge’s refined taste in office art, but Culuket and company probably won’t get to view his collection. What a pity that that is!

      Where then do mediators do their mediating? Over dirty martinis at the Four Seasons?

  10. boofoc
    06/10/2011 at 3:23 PM

    Mediations in which I have participated were held in conference rooms in the courthouse, a separate room for each party to which the mediator rotated his appearances for questioning, meeting for an hour more or less with each adversary, repeating those appearances as he was able to “narrow the issues” and then reporting back to the other party(ies) what was being accomplished in order to “get another bite”/hopefully additional concessions. These sessions might last all day and until the wee hours if progress is being made. Judge Chasanow’s firm may very well have facilities in its own offices (sufficient vacant rooms) for these activities; thus the parties might see the art collection as a bonus. But the price for these services is high.

    • Clio
      06/11/2011 at 3:34 PM

      One gets for what one pays: Needham and Diane have made it very clear that they’ll “pay any price and bear any burden” to keep their oldest son out of the pokey. So, keep charging, Judge, and they’ll probably keep paying … until the interests of Culuket and Sparkly Cat finally diverge. And, those interests can only diverge once Covington is through with them, IMHO.

  11. Keith
    06/12/2011 at 10:19 PM

    Just curious: based on the recent gym photos of Anthony Wiener, do you people think he’s a hot piece of ass, and would you invite him over your place and force a sex toy up his ass on order to induce ejaculation from him?

  12. AnnaZed
    05/10/2012 at 12:06 PM

    spam

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